SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Health is reviewing the practice of isolating potential Zika-infected patients, Senior Minister of State for Environment and Water Resources and Health Amy Khor said on Sunday (Sept 4).
Currently, those who are suspected of having Zika are isolated at the Communicable Disease Centre as they await their test results. Those found to be Zika-positive are isolated in hospitals.
The Ministry is considering letting suspected Zika-infected patients rest at home while their blood and urine samples are tested, and sending confirmed cases home to recuperate, said Dr Khor. But they will be advised to take precautions such as applying insect repellent to prevent themselves from getting bitten by mosquitoes.
"We are reviewing the practice of isolating Zika-positive patients who are actually clinically well and do not need to be hospitalised. In fact, they could be sent home to recuperate but take necessary precautions like applying repellent so they don't get bitten," said Dr Khor on the sidelines of a community outreach event at Hong Kah North.
The reason for this is because in the past week, doctors have observed that Zika-positive patients admitted to hospitals are generally well and have very mild symptoms, and are discharged within one to two days after testing negative for the virus.
In addition, four in five Zika-infected persons do not show any symptoms of the virus, Dr Khor added. Another factor for reviewing the practice of isolating patients is that "there are people in the community who are infected but do not know they are", so isolating the infected ones may not be effective.
Dr Khor added that such an approach will be in line with the Ministry's approach to dengue, where those who test positive for dengue are not warded in hospitals unless their condition is serious.
As of Saturday night, there were 215 Zika cases in Singapore.